Posts Tagged ‘Technique’

First of all, I’m not sure if I’ve ever written the word don’ts before, but it looks weird!

Ok, back to the focus of the post: Accessory Work

If you are an athlete that steps foot into a CrossFit gym on a regular basis, odds are that there are three to four-hundred things you’d like to improve to become a better athlete. Identifying some, or all, of those things typically leads athletes down one of three paths.

Path Number One

“That’s way too many things to try and improve… therefore, I shall choose to improve none of them!”

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Path Number Two

“I want to get better at Handstand Push-Ups. My legs need to get stronger. If I can improve my engine, I’ll get more rounds in workouts. With more flexible ankles, my rowing will get better. I want to get a PR on Murph next year. But I’d also like to beat my Fran time. ROM WOD 8 days per week will help me. I think I want to go that Double-Under clinic next weekend.” ~ The consecutive thoughts of one person

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Yes, there is a laundry list of things we can all improve upon, but trying to attack too much at once is unrealistic and really not smart. Why, you ask? Because some people (yes, I’m talking to you) will spend 30 minutes after class every day working on Muscle-Ups. Thirty minutes. Hanging and swinging from rings or a bar. After they’re tired from a workout. Not only will that likely lead to tearing hands, but trying to be explosive and technically precise after 60 minutes of torture (excuse me, I mean intense physical exertion) isn’t usually the best plan.

Path Number Three

Be a planner. Pick a few things you’d like to start improving. Find a person, or people, who can help you create an intelligent training plan or progression. If applicable, have someone who can watch you practice, or if you video your attempts, those who can give you constructive feedback. Too often “we don’t know what we don’t know,” and having a more experienced person in your corner can help foster huge breakthroughs. After a few weeks, note your progress on those items in your training log (yay, progress!) and create a new list!

Now, I’ve got Good News and Bad News:

The Good News is that in our sport of CrossFit, you LITERALLY have an ENDLESS list of things you can choose to improve at any given moment.

The Bad News, is that you’ll never be good at ALL of it. So don’t even try.

But, really, that’s also still the Good News! I’m telling you that (for most people in nearly every circumstance) you can work on a single skill foreverrrr, and still be able to keep improving over time! That is so awesome. Most things that are worth keeping don’t happen overnight, either.

If there’s anything I can do to help you on your journey, let me know. Set realistic goals. Have a plan. And actually try your best to enjoy the journey. If all goes well, we’ll be on it for a long time!

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In over 20 years of coaching individuals, I’ve used several motto’s or catch phrases to try and deliver a consistent message to my athletes. One of the early ones, that I still think about to this day, is reminding my athletes to move with purpose. Don’t flop your way through air squats just to get them done. Instead, realize that each rep, no matter how boring it may seem at the time, has the opportunity to make you stronger. Focus on your breathing when holding a mountain climber, and be aware that by driving through the heel of your front foot, you’ll get a deeper stretch. When you’re running, keep your chest up, shoulders relaxed, and find a rhythm that will help you control your breathing. You get the point. Moving with purpose is important, and I always want the people I work with to remember that!

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Lately, my new favorite phrase to say is, “When in doubt, slow it down!” What does that mean? For one, in this crazy sport of ours, moving faster is usually associated with being better. Get through the workout in less time, complete more rounds in the same amount of time, go, go, go! Unfortunately, what that also means a lot of the time is that athletes will move faster at the expense of good form. Most people I work are going to the gym in order to be healthier. If the focus is rushing through movements in the interest of going faster, technique typically suffers, increasing the likelihood of someone getting hurt. If they get hurt, they’re not necessarily getting better, are they?

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My advice, specifically on movements that are more technical, is to move a little bit slower than you think you should. Controlling the “down” portion of the squat and exploding up not only gives the athlete more time under tension (more gainz?), but also more time think about moving safely. I’d rather go 15 seconds slower on a workout and be safer and clearly complete full range of motion. Keep in mind that I’m not an elite-level competitor, I’m merely a recreational exercise racer. That said, for those who are training to compete, if they trained with full range of motion every day, and got to a competition with a “lenient” judge, they could maybe shorten each rep and get away with it. And what a treat that would be for them! On the other hand, if that same person always sprinted reps, and never fully locked out a single push-up during training…. and then they showed up to a competition with a strict judge who no-repped everything they did, it would be a lot more difficult for them to adjust. It’s a very similar concept to training heavier than you’ll need to compete (using a heavier wall ball for example) then going down to standard weight on game day and being able to move faster.

Practice typically doesn’t make perfect. But let me tell you, the people I know who practice with intention, move with purpose, and focus on slower and deliberate movement all the time almost always perform better when it matters most! Don’t base the value of your performance and training on the scores you produce or the times you get on workouts. Instead, focus more on moving with virtuosity, and the condition of your body. Most of us are in this thing for the long haul. If you want your body to serve you for years to come, treat it that way. If you’re ever wondering whether or not you’re doing something quite right, just remember… When it doubt, slow it down!